Confirmation that Jason Botts made the team is tempered by the fact that he is going to be a backup first baseman and DH. So, a guy who should be playing full-time will get to sit on the bench, and in a month or so (i.e. when Mench’s requirement to be added to the major league roster or released) they will point to the fact that Botts is not hitting and say he’s not going to make it. Never mind the fact that Ben Broussard is a barely above average major league hitter who is on the wrong side of 30. Despite Broussard sharing my wife’s maiden name and hometown (sadly, they are not related) I cannot believe the Rangers would let Broussard take at-bats that Botts should be getting. Although once again we’ve been saying that for a long time. The Rangers seem, for the last several years, to want to keep their top prospects in the minors, where they can excel at looking like prospects, instead of actually doing it in the bigs. Which means the player gets frustrated and leaves as soon as they can (if not traded), and the team loses overall.
Jamey Newberg today said: “On May 15, 2000, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was working in Boston for international food and beverage company Allied Domecq, the job he’d landed after graduating a year earlier from Cornell with a degree in applied economics and management.” I don’t think I knew that, or at least I had forgotten it. But it just reminded me of John Sculley, who was the president of Pepsi when Steve Jobs asked him “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”, and hired him as CEO of Apple Computer. His tenure turned out to be a disaster for Apple, or at least an unfocused mess. Do you think JD got the same speech somewhere along the line? Wanna sell soda, or run a major league baseball team? The unfocused mess part would certainly apply right now.
A month or two ago the powers that be in the English Premier League announced they were going to add a game to their schedule, to be played outside of England. In their schedule right now, every team plays every other team, once at home and once on the road, for a total of 38 games (20 team league). They want a 39th game, to count in the standings, to be played in major cities around the world (think NY, LA, Tokyo, Sydney etc). It’s all for the money, of course. Now, me, I would travel pretty much anywhere in the US to see Arsenal play. But the funny part is that this idea was howled down in England, from both the fans and the media. Soccer teams in England are really much more local than teams are here, in that distances are much smaller. To give you an idea, the two biggest teams in England, Arsenal and Manchester United, are only a couple of hundred miles apart, and few teams in the league are much further apart, and often much closer (Arsenal’s local rival, Tottenham, are just a couple of miles down the road). This is a large reason why there was much violence in European soccer in the past (it has largely disappeared, even if the reputation has not), and why it hasn’t been seen in the US. If Arsenal travel to Manchester, they take several thousand fans with them. If the Rangers travel to the Yankees, the tv guys have fun picking out the half dozen Rangers caps in the crowd (and those people are pretty brave, I think I would think more than twice about wearing a Rangers cap if ever I get to go to Yankee Stadium).
But I digress. The point is, the fans were hugely upset that their teams would be playing on the other side of the world, in games that actually counted in the standings (English teams play all over the world in friendly games). The idea of it happening has almost been killed off, after barely being mentioned as a possibility in years to come (hey, when is Hicks going to get Liverpool to come play here in Frisco? I’d go to that, too, even if it is Liverpool).
All that to point out that Major League Baseball opened the season in Tokyo today, spreading their legs like a Eliot Spitzer hooker to get a few more yen out of Japan. And they do it all over the place, to try and increase their international market. How do Oakland fans feel, knowing that two of their home games are being played on the other side of the world? How much would Boston fans be screaming if they would have gotten two less games of their beloved Red Sox?
By the way, you should be pleased to know that today the Rangers are out of last place for the first time since April 24 last year.
I’m supposed to do predictions before the season starts, but one or two games won’t matter, will they? I’d still put the Rangers somewhere between 70-75 wins, battling Oakland for last place.
I got to read the Star-Telegram today, not often I get to see it, but there was a piece in there about signing John Patterson. I read it negatively, of course, and reading between the lines all I could see was that Mark Connor is an idiot. Basically the signing was his call, because he had worked with Patterson in Arizona years ago. He was remembering this guy who could throw mid-90s, but after injury he’s down to mid-80s. Yet another project. I don’t mind the 99 to 1 shots that they talked about, but not when you base the franchise’s entire philosophy on it. Try some of the 10 to 1 or 20 to 1 guys in the minors, at that rate you’ll get five of them before you get Patterson to work out.
If you’re wondering, Edinson Volquez has 26 strikeouts this spring, second in the majors, to go with his 2.70 ERA. Franklyn German has 10 to lead the Rangers. Luis Mendoza, who will be the Rangers fifth starter, after such an outstanding spring according to Mark Connor, has 5 strikeouts and a 5.40 ERA. I know, I know, it’s only spring training. You never count your cards until the dealing’s done. And you never count your pitchers until they’re wearing someone else’s uniform.